Paul Carr,
Just Noodlin'
(Karma, 2006)

Sax player Paul Carr is doing more than just noodlin' on his second CD as the front man. Carr shares musical duties with trumpeter Terell Stafford, who also appears on each cut. There are also a variety of musicians on piano, bass and drums.

Just Noodlin' is straight-up jazz and might even be called a conservative recording. There are only acoustic instruments, and the tracks are chord-based instead of modal or "free." The standards include "But Not for Me" by the Gershwins and "Alfie" by Bacharach and David. There is not a trace of either "smooth" or funk, which almost makes it musical heresy by today's standards.

The nine tunes follow the standard pattern of unison playing followed by individual solos and a return to unison for the close. There are a few ballads; for example, "Alfie" is given a Latin treatment featuring Carr's soprano sax.

But even if Noodlin' does not break any new ground, the playing is excellent. Carr and Stafford build their solos to hard, blasting notes without ever losing control. Whether noodlin' with fast runs or melodically, both men expertly handle their horns. Carr's two compositions stand up well, along with the two written by Reuben Brown, a fellow Washington, D.C.-based artist.

This is an example of solid, professional jazz done by an artist who knows how to use his noodle.

by Dave Howell
23 September 2006

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